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  Alpine M63

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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1963
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 10, 2013
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith the Index of Performance and the Thermal Efficiency Index being the main objectives for Alpine in 1963, a slippery design was required. To create this, Rédélé hired Marcel Hubert. He was limited by the relatively wide track stipulated by Terry's original design and also Rédélé's desire to run the A110 windshield, which he believed was in the spirit of the Le Mans regulations. Working around the clock, Hubert nevertheless did remarkably well, creating a shape that was both very slippery yet also stable at high speeds. The curvaceous body was executed in lightweight polyester.

Dubbed the M63, in reference to the 1963 Le Mans, the first purpose-built Alpine racer was completed early in April, literally hours before the official test weekend at Le Mans. Designer Boyer and team manager José Rosinski shared the wheel and in what was effectively a shake-down, gradually refined the setup throughout the weekend. By the end of Sunday, Rosinski clocked a time of 4:40, which was a full five seconds faster than the rivalling Bonnets and also a new lap record for sub one-litre cars around Le Mans. Later in the month Rosinski and American Lucky Casner won their class at the Nürburgring.

Encouraged by the early results, three Alpine M63s were entered for Le Mans. Each was sent off with a different strategy with as respective goals the Index of Performance, Thermal Efficiency Index and the one-litre class. All looked well early in the race but it all started to unravel by the sixth hour when Brazilian driver Christian 'Bino' Heins suffered a fatal accident after he lost control on oil and debris left by other competitors and he hit a telegraph pole. The second Alpine retired soon after with a clutch failure. The day was almost saved by the final M63, which comfortably led the Thermal Efficiency Index until the engine failed, due to ignoring a oil warning light.

Following the disappointing 24 Hours Le Mans, Alpine continued to field the M63 with considerable success. Early in 1964, three cars were sent to Sebring and at least one remained in the United States where it was fielded in minor races. Meanwhile, a brand new M64 was developed for Le Mans, which featured a much stronger and lighter spaceframe chassis. It would go on to win its class and also the Thermal Efficiency Index. This was the first of many successes at Le Mans for the Renault-engined Alpines, which ultimately culminated in an outright victory in 1978. Exactly fifty years after the M63 made its debut, the recently revived Alpine brand returned to Le Mans.

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  Article Image gallery (30) Chassis (3) Specifications User Comments (2)